SGPT: Tell us about yourself?
SS: I’m a 46 year old Automotive Fabricator who lives in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada.
My family has a military history and I’ve spent my youth in Cadets and then spent some time in the reserves with the Queens Own Rifles of Canada which has shaped my life probably more than I thought…
SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?
SS: I tried a bunch of sports when I was growing up but nothing stuck. I was more of a skateboarder than a jock. I’ve always been active with camping, chopping wood -outdoor living, shoveling snow! Typical Canadian living… I also have been going to Crossfit for about 4 years.
SGPT: How did you train for the GoRuck Selection event?
SS: This was actually quite a process for me. GORUCK Selection 017 was my third attempt. My first attempt at Selection 014 had me working on building strength for endurance to overcome areas I knew were weak, such as shoulders to prepare for overhead presses etc. My plan was based on reading past Selection AARs and it worked quite well to prepare my body. The problem was I forgot to train my mind for mental toughness and at hour 34 when things were getting beyond my control I caved. Attempt number two, Selection 015 was in October on the beach in Florida. I’m a redhead from Canada, and for me it was HOT. It took me about 12hrs to take a knee prior to passing out from sun stroke… lesson learned – redheads don`t belong on the beach! When I learned that Selection 017 was going down in Bozeman, Montana I knew this one was mine. I still had my strengths and I had changed my workouts to much longer mental chippers.
I started training for this event 6 months out, knowing that it takes me longer to recover. I started on the Strong Swift Durable GoRuck Selection training program, which I felt covered everything I needed to take care of. When I finished up with that I sought out long horrible movements like 2k bear crawls, Burpee miles, miles of lunges, loads of suicide runs –etc. I was looking for opportunities to test my mental endurance.
I had also changed my mental attitude to say “it doesn’t matter“ as in it doesn’t matter what you make me do, I’m not going to quit –I think I brain washed myself!
And finally, in events past it was sad to see friends drop, so I really tried to remain alone leading up to the event and I was out for blood –I was there to crush everyone. It sounds callous and that’s not normally me but “it didn’t matter” I’m not doing this again!
SGPT: Tell us a little about the event? Where was it?
SS: Goruck Selection has a reputation for being the world’s toughest endurance event. It is modeled after Ranger Assessment and Selection Program RASP and run by Cadre that have all been there done that; the standard must be maintained and will never change, if you don’t pass and the class goes black then so be it. Selection has been held at various places around the States, the ones I have attended have been in Florida and Montana –each offer a unique landscape and different challenges. The duration of the Event is about 48 hours; to start there is the Physical Training (PT) test which involves push-ups, sit-ups, 5 mile run and a 12 mile ruck march.
Everyone who manages to pass the PT test then moves into the `Welcome Party` which is really just a multi-hour beat-down. Then we move out for long-distance ruck and runs, usually with additional weight in the form of sand-bag babies. The shape the event takes from there is really up to the Cadre.
SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?
SS: I have to say the mountains, I used to think I lived on a mountain and it provided me with ample training grounds –not even close. I don’t know how many times I climbed those mountains, but I quickly burned out my Hammies and IT bands from climbing and descending. I just kept changing my gate, pace, anything to keep the pain rotating.
SGPT: What is one thing you wish you would have done to get ready for GoRuck Selection?
SS: I was pretty good this time, I had everything down and I was on my game. The one thing I think worked best for me was bouncing in and out of Ketosis prior to the event. At the 24hr mark of the event I wasn’t really feeling hungry and still felt mentally fresh. Visualization also helped me quite a bit –every day, I imagined going through the entire event; from PT test to Endex and planned for every situation.
SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to do GoRuck Selection?
SS: Learn as much as you can – there is a lot of information about this event out there. If you don’t plan and take training with a grain of salt you will fail – this isn’t for the weekend warrior. Training 5 to 6 days a week with many 2-a-day workouts with long movements into the evening takes a toll on your life. You have to really want this – these guys did it for a career, we do it for a cool patch and to push our limits –WHY do you want to do it? If you have solid reason you can do it.
SGPT: What kind of boots did you use for the event?
SS: Ha, this was a sketchy one. I’ve always been a fan of Rocky Boots (like walking on pillows) My day to day boots are Rocky C4T Tactical Boots, but for the mountains I had to change because of the lack of tread on the C4Ts. I decided to go with the Rocky RLW, similar upper but with a tread. I also ordered a ½ size larger which bought toe room so I didn’t lose my toenails from the descents down the mountain. Breaking them in was straight forward, before I moved out or if I had an opportunity to wear them all day I’d get them wet and walk-em dry. Unfortunately disaster struck 4 days before I left – I was on a 26km ruck/run to Yoga and back when the left sole on my boot started to come off. I think it was because of the heat coming off the road, but whatever the reason I was stressing out – I had a lot of time invested in these boots! I took them to a Cobbler and he glued the sole back on and guaranteed that it would not come off again. Well, the sole came off again with 2 days to go. Crap! I decided to take matters into my own hands. I cleaned off all the old glues and used 3M Windshield Urethane to glue the sole back on –it worked better than I expected and the boots held up perfectly through Selection. I did bring a backup pair of Salomon runners just in case!
SGPT: Did you use double socks or body glide on your feet to prevent blisters?
SS: Funny enough, I can’t walk outside with bare feet. Every rock I step on kills me. I think I have sensitive feet? For the event I used one pair of Darn Tough Merino Wool socks. I don’t use anything else on my feet – sweat is the best lube.
For the last 12hrs I changed out to a pair of winter weight Smart wool socks –more comfort! However the balls of my feet were all blisters and I was walking on the outside edge of my feet as much as I could and my big toes had gone numb, but “it didn’t matter”.
SGPT: What kind of ruck did you use for training and the event?
SS: I used a GORUCK GR2 –it’s bigger than what is generally recommend, but for me it’s a tall bag and fits my torso better and allowed me to equip it with a waist belt that could carry all the weight on my hips when my traps were screaming
SGPT: What is your next big event?
SS: TBD at this point. I have a winter snowshoe marathon thing I have to do and I’m gearing up for the Endeavour Team Challenge in 2016.
Although my body is still recovering from Selection, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I really like the events with odds that you will not make it: planning, strategy, training, execution, and mental toughness –events that push you and let you grow as a human being.
Everyone should do an event that pushes their boundaries.
SS: I just finished Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – great book! Glad I didn’t go see the movie, I surround myself with things that can help me through events or situations –this book was great to keep the pain in check –nothing I was experiencing was as bad as that! During training I was listening to Dick Couch’s “The Warrior Elite“ which kept my head in the game listening to them going through Hell Week
SGPT: Many thanks for the interview Stony
SS: Thank you for asking. I hope someone can use this info to help their game plan –if anybody has any questions, please track me down and ask.
SGPT interviews GORUCK Selection graduate Paige Bowie